Dynamic Play Brings Da Vinci’s Notebooks to Life
By October 13, 2022 0 1679•
“The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci” is a theatrical treasure chest of selections from more than 5,000 pages of the masterful Italian Renaissance artist’s 15th century notebooks with diagrams, drawings, personal notes and observations. In his lifetime, he produced possibly 20,000 to 28,000 more!
A protean mind, Da Vinci had something to say about everything.
One thing is clear, however. He was not limited in his thinking by strict academic categories such as questions about “What is art?” or “What is science?” So neither should a play about him be so constrained to any single form.
Tony Award-winning writer and director Mary Zimmerman’s presentation gives full range to these possibilities. Towering file cabinets are set on the stage with many drawers to open, each containing new explorations. Eight troupe members keep a fast pace, presenting lectures, performing acrobatic feats and dancing to music by Miriam Sturm.
Besides DaVinci’s observations on painting and architecture (with his interesting asides on Botticelli’s landscapes and about Michelangelo and the art of sculpture), his works on mechanics and specifically air flight and his observations and diagrams on the human body and anatomy are explored. Today, 500 years after Da Vinci created these diagrams and wrote these notes, we still marvel at his genius.
But also interspersed in this performance are his short poems and musings as well as a long complaint about the thievery in his household by Giacomo (aka “Little Devil”) — all to remind us that he was human too!
This production now at the Shakespeare Theatre is an experience, not as a traditional play with a storyline, but one that melds together ideas from the mind of one singular man about the vast potentials of what we might observe and experience as humans. A treasure indeed!
The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci
Now through October 23, 2022
Shakespeare Theatre Company Klein Theater
450 7th Street NW
For information go to Shakespearetheatre.org.
The performance runs 90 minutes with without intermission.